Plato's Realpolitik: Reconsidering Callicles' Speech in Plato's Gorgias

Steven Thomason, Ouachita Baptist University, Department of Political Science


Although often dismissed as a villain, Callicles’ views about philosophy and politics expressed in his speech in Plato’s Gorgias criticizing Socrates actually turn out to be similar to Socrates’ own thoughts about philosophy and politics when compared to Socrates’ arguments in other dialogues such as the Republic. However, Socrates obfuscates these similarities through his use of rhetoric in the latter part of the dialogue in order to conceal a more fundamental disagreement about the priority and relationship of philosophy and politics, which constitutes an important and overlooked teaching of Plato’s Gorgias.